3.2 On fingerpointing
Being digital brings us closer to others as we get more connected. Sometimes, that’s uncomfortable.
It seems we’re in a time of making judgments about what we identify with and what we disassociate ourselves from – what ‘is’ and what is ‘other’, that over there, not us, the things at which we do the finger pointing. Them.
Haley Morris-Cafiero’s work is a splendid illustration.
This Independent article explains how ‘long before she caught them on camera, Haley Morris-Cafiero noticed them: the stares, the glances. Then, while working on a self-portrait series in Times Square in 2010, the photographer captured it by accident. A man looking at her seemingly in disgust’.
Thanks to a Kickstarter campaign supporting her work, she’s now created a book about it, ‘The Watchers’.
Connectivity can breed either intolerance or compassion. It’s a choice.
But it’s not just about us one-on-one. Walls are going up nationally. Reactionary politics is in vogue.
Code has created a one-world economy, shaking existing boundaries around the world at a time where there is a scarcity of resource and a growing accompanying fear.
The fingerpointing reaction is an existentialist one. A reaction to the slightly rancid realization that as we get more connected, things become blurred; and with fewer resources to go around, that gets scary.
Substitute Daily Mail comments for Nazi propaganda and the full extent of human vitriol at that prospect is unleashed. In 2015, we can’t even see the seam between historical crimes against humanity and the everyday asides people are making on social media.
Take a look at Donald Trump or Nigel Farage‘s ratings and you’ll see that someone, anyone, that can make it all go away is seen as an attractive option. Never mind that the methods are draconian. Walls are an old world solution to a very modern challenge.
In a connected world, it seems to me we have to come to terms with how code contains a hidden script: That it is the nature of connection that for every finger we point, three others in our hand are pointing back at us.
Without leadership that can understand this is fingerpointing and can rise above it, what we have is a very modern holocaust, a dispersed an economic kind of war, a disapora, and a fight to win by pitting humankind against itself in the face of a new world order.
There is no single, obvious ‘bad guy’ in the networked world, everything is much more dispersed and complicated. Yet, at the same time, there is unspeakable cruelty in this primitive group mind that is forming of ours, and it is making itself manifest.
The vulnerable are being left to fend for themselves. They are being ostracised, excised out of the future network. The lifeboat of sustainable digital economics is perceived as only having room for so many. The language of persecution, thick in the digital airwaves, is a symptom of how we are wrestling with the dilemma of ‘is’ and ‘other’.
Today, we are all the bad guy and the good guy.
Trying to make sense of where interconnectivity might take us, we can all be intolerant, or we can all be more compassionate, if we understand this and want to be.
It is time to come to terms with the science of disgust and for us to evolve beyond a destructive, binary, human ambivalence.
Paradoxically, code is how we can find the best answers to the dilemma. It is the logic that can soothe the emotional terror of change we don’t yet fully understand.